Saturday, 17 March 2012


“Millions of teachers, nurses, civil servants and other public sector workers are to lose their right to national pay rates, the Chancellor George Osborne will announce in next week’s Budget.”


If I’d followed Katharine Whitehorn’s  sensible advice from many years ago, never to read anything in the newspaper which is in the future or conditional tense, I would not now be getting steamed up over the proposal to introduce regionally differential rates of pay.

I'm old enough to remember when salaries were lower in Cornwall, where I live, than in London  and other prosperous areas. One of the effects was to render the difference permanent, since nobody would move to a job that paid less than their previous one and   people who wanted to move away from the poorer area couldn't afford anywhere to live in a richer one. Far more noticeable was the fact that ambitious,  highflying professionals would obviously not move here for a  smaller salary. This had the inevitable bad effect on the  NHS and other professions.

In spite of generous European subsidies to Cornwall, which have certainly improved the environment and the economy in the last few years, it is still one of the poorest areas in Europe. If George Osborne's alleged intention is carried out, it will be put off the  ladder laboriously climbed during the last few years, and back to institutionalised poverty.

And what has this got to do with the usual subject of this blog? It's obvious: who are the majority of the nurses, teachers, public sector workers to be disadvantaged by this new policy? Answer: by a sizeable  majority, women.

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